Price per Katrina Cottage

Witold Rybczynski, writing in Slate, suggests that the Katrina Cottages should be shoddier.

Wood framing, fiberglass insulation, and conventional vinyl siding would have been cheaper. So would asphalt shingles instead of the trendy tin roof.

The designers have aimed at a construction cost of $60,000—a full $10,000 less than the current $70,000 that it costs FEMA to buy a trailer. This is an admirable goal, but they should have aimed lower. The cottages are approximately 650 square feet, and the cost works out to just less than $100 per square foot. That’s pricey. A good production builder can bring in a conventional house, with all the bells and whistles that current homebuyers expect, for under $40 per square foot.

$40 per square foot? That must be the architect’s estimate pre-bubble prices.